tonight on "nightline" -- men of the night? are they practicing the world's oldest profession? they say no. but when these guys take you out, there may be more than dinner on the menu. why they say what they do is legal. plus, heart attack grill. it's the restaurant that boasts its food can kill you. and now, a diner wheeled out on a stretcher while eating a triple bypass burger. tonight, was it coincidence? or can this grill really kill? and dogtv. it's a new breed of television. a 24-hour station that's literally gone to the dogs. they say their shows will keep
your puppy company. but could it turn your pet into a couch potato? >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline." february 16th, 2012. good evening. i'm cynthia mcfadden. we begin with the business of sex and the question of whether more women are paying for -- well, what exactly? the ultimate boyfriend? well, tonight, we visit a company in las vegas that caters exclusively to a female clientele. the women pay for dates. they say, they're just out for fun. and the men insist whatever money is exchanged violates no law. here's juju chang for our series, modern sex in america. >> reporter: meet shawn. he's getting ready for work. >> i put a little vaseline
lotion. make my skin nice and soft. >> reporter: his is not your average day job. his line of work, fulfilling women's fantasies for a price. $500 for a night. or $1,000 for a night. how much of that do you see? >> 80%. >> reporter: $800, just another night for a gigolo. ♪ ♪ call me >> reporter: richard gere may have immortalized the concept in "american gigolo," but male escorts catering to women, has always been an urban legend. until recently. showtime's reality program, "gigalos" pulls back the curtain. it seems more and more women are willing to say they pay for sex. the men on the series are employed by real-life agency, cowboys 4 angels. >> i'm calling to let you know you have a request for tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. >> reporter: 36-year-old garren
james is their agent. some would say pimp. when people think of gigolos, they think of sex. and they think of sex for money. how is that not illegal? >> sex for money is illegal. if someone called the agency and said, i'm looking to have sex with one of your guys, that would go no further. it's not illegal to charge for your time. that's what we're doing. >> reporter: what's more, it turns out this kind of transaction, payment up front with no guarantee of sex, is, in fact, perfectly legal, in all the states where his services are available. nevada, california, texas, new york, georgia and florida. as are female escort services for men. there are plenty of people at home who would see this and think, this is morally bankrupt. >> a moral thing is something that's either right or wrong. and i mean, if i'm a man and i want to take a woman on a date, i'm paying for everything. so, i don't see how it's much different, in the fact that just because a woman is paying now,
it's wrong, doesn't make any sense. >> reporter: the morality debate aside, smart, affluent women are coming to the site in spades. women like 39-year-old heather smith, a successful, single manager at a fortune 500 company. >> it's funny. i had a good time with him. >> reporter: she says being a gigolo is not all about sex. >> i don't think of the gigolos as sex workers or prostitutes. i never have. they certainly don't feel like that. >> reporter: she should know. she sampled five of them and counting. she spent between $500 and $1,000 a month on gigolos. several thousand so far in total. >> i want to meet this mark guy. he's pretty attractive. that's yummy tribal stuff. i'm attracted. this one guy is a sci-fi geek, which turns me on. that's sexy. >> reporter: heather says dating professionals, as she calls them, helped her get over the grief she felt after her fertility treatments ended
tragically. >> best treatment ever. i didn't realize i was carrying around so much stuff after the pregnancy loss. i don't know why but the gigolos have helped me through all that. that, you can't put a price tag on. >> reporter: gigolos have become her unconventional weight loss plan. every time she loses five pounds, she rewards her self with a date. >> i jiggle this for nick. it's a whole thing. this is where i started. and here's when i added gigolos to the plan. you see a nice, steady decline there. i've lost over 27 inches. and my doctor was thrilled. she doesn't know the gigolo part of my weight loss plan. but she said, whatever you're doing, keep doing it. >> i really love women. >> reporter: gigolo vin is her favorite. >> i have a date with vin tonight. we're going to dinner. >> reporter: and tonight, she's getting ready for her sixth date with him. >> i like dressing up for my dates. that's part of the fun. i never had anybody to dress up
for before. garrett employs vin and seven other men. after the showtime series, business is booming. >> since i started, i had 2,000 employment requests. >> reporter: 2,000 volunteers to be gigolos. what are you looking for? >> the first thing, they should look like a model type. educated, humorous, intelligent and a gentleman. >> reporter: and do you do background checks? >> yes. that's one of the things that i do. >> reporter: garren says he conducts a four-part interview for perspective interviews. but because he's not asking for sex for money, he can't demand regular std tests. but the men we spoke to, said they always practice safe sex. is this for business? >> yeah. >> reporter: this is you. garren recruited shawn, a former stripper from a modeling website. tonight, shawn is meeting a regular from southern california, who is in vegas on
business. you're looking forward to seeing her? >> yeah. >> reporter: you look forward to seeing her. >> reporter: shawn arrives at the hotel in vegas. the two head to the bar for drinks. the clock is ticking. after the scheduled two hours, shawn's date asks for another two. they meet us, before heading to her hotel room. how do you feel about shawn? >> shawn is amazing. >> reporter: and so, he's good at what he does. >> very good. >> reporter: why shawn? why like this? >> i don't have time to meet anyone. i work a lot. and i like -- >> reporter: two more hours and $1,000 later, the date is over. what can you tell us about what happened upstairs. >> i gave her a massage with my hands. and the time's up already. had to go. i'm just being a gentleman. and what happens in vegas -- it happened in vegas, so, it has to stay in vegas.
so do her stories and her secrets. >> reporter: and for the women wealthy enough to afford the gigolos, there's something else with the price tag, what some call for the perfect boyfriend experience. they pay for them to go away. >> i know they're not going to call. i don't want them to call. i know that, you know, whatever i say is what i say. they like it or they don't. i don't care. you know? there's a freedom there. you know, a liberty. and just being whoever you are and knowing it doesn't matter. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm juju chang, in las vegas. >> okay. just ahead, the restaurant that jokes that its food can kill. tonight, how the joke took a shocking turn. look at all this stuff for coffee. oh there's tons. french presses, espresso tampers, filters. it can get really complicated. not nearly as complicated as shipping it though. i mean shipping is a hassle. not with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service. if it fits it ships, anywhere in the country for a low flat rate.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city, with cynthia mcfadden. well, when we first heard about a restaurant out west called the heart attack grill, and learned that they served food with such memorable names such as the quadruple bypass burger and read about the bad for you ingredients, we wondered if it was all just a lark. but service at the diner was interrupted by an emergency that was no joke at all. here's abc's ryan owens. >> reporter: this week, the heart attack grill apparently lived up to its name. the restaurant where customers wear hospital gowns. and waitresses dress as nurses, was e scene of aeal medical emergency. >> i felt horrible for him. and i didn't know what to do. i'm not really a nurse. >> reporter: a man eating the trademark triple bypass burger suddenly looked like he needed one. when paramedics wheeled him out
of the las vegas establishment, an onlooker shot this cell phone video. and why not? it seemed to be a cruel practical joke or a publicity stunt. but the grill's owner, who, yes, dresses as a doctor, says it was the real deal. >> all right. this wasn't a playful thing. if you've ever actually really witnessed a coronary issue, you'll vomit afterwards. >> reporter: the victim is in his 40s and is expected to make a full recovery. the same can't be said for this man. >> i'm up another few inches. who needs these old pants. >> reporter: blare river was the spokes model for the original location, near phoenix, arizona. >> i'm 470 pounds. >> reporter: we met him in january of last year. back then, he told us one of the perks of the job is eating free. anyone over 350 pounds doesn't
pay a cent. >> i'm here every day. why not have fun with it? and go with it as long as i can? >> reporter: sadly, two months after we met him, blair died of pneumonia at the age of 29. when your spokesperson drops dead at the age of 29, and he's morbidly obese by anybody's estimation, don't you have a problem? >> absolutely. who wouldn't? every person cared about blair. had he been thinner, he probably would have survived that pneumonia. >> reporter: there's an argument to be made that you used this guy during his life. and now, you are very morbidly using his death to continue to promote your restaurant. >> i absolutely agree. and in a very sick way, his death has gotten the message out further. >> reporter: for a man who is making an awful lot of money serving up artery-clogging burgers, basso has a most unusual justification. that america needs shock therapy to cure its obesity epidemic.
he said he tried other messages. he once owned a chain of jenny craig weight loss centers and several personal training studios. >> i hope every person comes in and buys a hamburger and a t-shirt from me. but you know what? i'm saying as loudly and as clearly as any business in america can, this is dangerous. >> reporter: do you have a conscience at all? >> my conscience is simply this -- what would blair hovering above me want me to do right now? and blair would say this, put back on the stethoscope. let's keep being the doctor that everyone loves to hate because that really gets the message out. >> reporter: to keep delivering that message, a week after blair's untimely death, the heart attack grill has another spokes model. >> here you go. >> reporter: ernie heart. yes, that's his real last name. and, yes, he is chowing down on a quadruple bypass.
>> even though my cardiologist and my wife tell me not to come, and after surviving a coma and multiple heart surgeries, i still come. i enjoy the burgers. >> reporter: ernie was actually the spokesperson before blair but had to take a few months off after open-heart surgery. >> that's worth dying for. >> reporter: aren't you glorifying obesity? which obviously kills? >> absolutely. i think it would be immoral to stop at this point. >> reporter: explain that to me. >> we're past the point of no return at the heart attack grill. we have blood on our hands at this point. >> reporter: the good doctor meant it as a morbid joke. >> nothing like a candy cigarette, huh? >> reporter: but this week, it almost came true. again. i'm ryan owens, for "nightline," in dallas. >> today, the physicians committee for responsible medicine said they sent a letter to the grill, asking them to
close for health reasons. thanks to ryan owens. and just ahead, it's tv for dogs. ridiculo ridiculous? maybe. but could you refuse a face like that? wanna know the difference between a trader and an elite trader? it's this... the etrade pro platform. fast. beautiful. totally customizable. finds top performing stocks -- in three clicks. quickly scans the market for new trading ideas. it can even match options strategies to your goals and lets you see the potential risk and reward. and, it also comes with a dedicated elite service team.
cable channel devoted entirely to programs for man's best friend. abc's mohammed leila, it was a "sign of the times." >> reporter: we primp them. and we pamper them. now, we are going where no one, two-legged or four, has gone before. say hello to dogtv, the latest in our gazillion channel universe. >> that sounds great. it really does. >> reporter: i smile when i say it. what's the deal with dogtv? >> people's reaction when they hear about it, they go, oh, you're kidding. >> reporter: bark if you want. but dog gone it, there is a science behind it all. victoria stillwell is part of the team behind the channel. >> they see colors more muted. the dog's not going to see the
green trees. they're going to see gray trees. dogtv has colored the trees so the dogs can really see them. >> reporter: it sounds a bit silly. the thing is, we already know dogs watch tv. in fact, there's over 5,000 videos on youtube voted to it. including, for some reason, dogs watching "law & order." so, why not just cave in and give canines their own channel? >> most of our dogs are working breeds. we have a nation of unemployed dogs here, doing nothing, except sleeping on the couch all day. >> reporter: there's an unemployment crisis with dogs, as well. >> a huge unemployment crisis with dogs. they're anxious. they're stressed. >> reporter: it turns out, dogs suffer from separation anxiety like we do. that's where dogtv kicks in. think of it as a stand-in, for dog's best friend for man's best friend. >> are you going to put it on and your dog's going to become a couch potato?
that's not what this is about. this is another tool in the tool box of helping your dog cope with the environment. >> reporter: who wants to watch tv? our focus pack seemed to calm down. except for this guy. he was more interested in me. >> how pretty. >> reporter: we took this video to gail and her pups, otis and trudy. she runs a doggy day care in manhattan. then, something interesting happened. we left with our cameras still rolling, and guess what happened. the dogs didn't stick around. coming back only to look for the doggy crumbs i left behind. >> it's visualal in a flat, one-dimensional sense. my dogs did not respond to that. >> reporter: dogtv is betting on the 15 million other dog owners here in the u.s. after all, could you ever say no to a face like this? >> well, i know one dog that watches "nightline" every night. i'll be right home, sparky. as for